There is a lot out here on the interent about birthing; especially natural birth and the birthing experience. Having wanted a natural birth experience for all three of my littles, I was quite disappointed to have each of them end in cesarean sections. For a long time I felt that I was missing the experience of natural birth, that I had been robbed. Over the last year or so, I have come to a peaceful place with the experience that I did have, the experience is mine. A lot of that is from being able to read the experiences of others and how they got through them. Some insight that helped me greatly was from Morgan over at Adventures in Diapering. I have come to realize that it is OK for me to miss that experience, as long as I can still look at the big picture and remember that the pregnancy and birth are probably about 1% of the entire parenting experience, and the parenting experience is what really matters.
Another thing that I have come to realize is that there are some women (men too…) who really put a value on the natural birth experience, and in talking about that value as a whole (medically and emotionally speaking), focus on the areas in which our current maternal care system is lacking. There is not a lot of discussion of situations where cesarean sections were a legitimate medical necessity. I believe that for most women who have experienced something different than they were hoping for, this does nothing but perpetuate feelings of loss, sadness, and possibly inadequacy.
While this is something that has been of interest to me for over a decade, it has been more of recent that I have been doing more reading and research on the issue. I am fully aware of the sad state of our maternal care in the U.S., both from my readings, and from personal experience. I know that there are many (too many) situations where a woman who intends on having a natural birth experience ends up with an epidural, and eventually lands on the OR table while her child is born through a surgical incision for reasons that could have been avoided. I know that there are OBs who want to practice 9-5 medicine and will induce labor or schedule ‘elective’ cesareans so they can be home in time for dinner. I also know that many women head into the hospital thinking that they are going to have the birth experience that they dreamed of, not ever having had a direct conversation with their doctor about his or her practices, or doing any of their own research outside of taking the child birth classes taught at the hospital. The problem is not only the fault and/or the responsibility of medical providers, but also that of women.
I believe that there is more than one issue at hand here. The fist is making a change in the system so that pregnancy and birth are treated as a natural process and not a disease that needs to be cured. The second is that we need to develop a true understanding of what (some) women who have had cesarean sections go through in the recovery process emotionally, and provide better support for them.
There are amazing nurses, midwives, and doctors out there that realize we have come to a place where change needs to happen. Many are trying to make that change even if it is only in the smallest things that they can do as individuals (maybe a nurse standing strong in supporting a women’s wishes when she is being bullied by a doctor). Some know we need a change but have no idea where to start, and there are others, unfortunately, that don’t realize anything is wrong.
I believe that as a woman, I have a responsibility to myself and other women, to be an educated consumer’ of all things. Number one on the list of all things is health care. Change doesn’t come easily or quickly, but with time, persistance, and hard work, we can make it happen. It is my responsibility to be open and upfront with my doctor regarding my expectations. It is also my responsibility stand up for myself if I believe that I am not getting what I deserve. Remember that even in the doctor’s office, you are paying for a service, and you deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. You can question things without being rude or pushy, and it is OK to say no, or I want a second opinion. It is your body, and what happens to it is your choice. Don’t let that choice be taken away from you.